I've worked in an office staffed by a dozen people, in another with about a hundred, and in several employing thousands. And I'm convinced that, for personal job satisfaction, smaller is better.

Let me count the ways.

Spending less time in meetings is one. In a small office you can define a problem with just one or two other people . . . develop a solution . . . and then get a quick approval or turn-down. And if the project is relatively simple, the whole process may happen faster than you could assemble all the mandatory bodies for a start-up meeting in a big office.

If your experience gives you any basis for comparison, you end up feeling you are accomplishing more with your time at a smaller place -- because you are.

For many of us, a leaner office structure has another effect that is even more important: greater pride of creation in various endeavors, whether they're sales programs, production innovations, new office procedures or whatever. It's not just that too many cooks can spoil the broth; they can save it sometimes, too. But they do manage to reduce the thrill of being a chef.

There's a corollary to this that is significant, too. One person's creation has a proud parent, emotionally involved and ready to fight for its success. The product of a committee -- or of a large hierarchy of contributors -- doesn't elicit the same degree of commitment from anyone. Yet it's visionary commitment that overcomes obstacles and turns inspirations into achievements.

Another advantage of a small office is fewer breakdowns in communications. When people encounter most of their cohorts every day, they rarely forget to pass along news of a decision or development that affects other departments as well as their own. On this score, the contrast with a large office is not just pronounced, it's stupendous.

Lastly, those who work in a small office are more universally inclined to pitch in and help each other, regardless of their job descriptions. This willingness is a matter of necessity, of course, when there aren't many firefighters to put out the fires.

I suspect that much of what I've discussed underlies the current vogue among large companies for creating relatively small and autonomous "entrepreneurial" groups for key projects. This new fashion in management is really based on an old truth about the workplace: there isn't safety in numbers, there's bureaucracy.